Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz division has started production of its M-Class SUV in India following the delivery of semi-knockdown (SKD) kits from the US that began this autumn. It is first time the carmaker has assembled M-Class in the country and it now joins C-Class, E-Class and S-Class luxury sedans production there. Around a 100 of the vehicles will be produced per month.

The M-Class kits are being shipped from the company’s plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for assembly at the Mercedes Chakan plant, near Pune, and sale on the local market. In early 2013, the German carmaker will also begin assembling the GL Class SUV at Chakan along with the entry level B-Class sports tourer. The company has further plans for SKD shipments of the M-Class and GL-Class in Thailand (Samutprakan plant) and Indonesia (Wanaherang plant).

The company first made the announcement about the Chakan SKD exports back in August this year and at the time Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler’s board member responsible for Manufacturing and Procurement, Mercedes-Benz Cars & Mercedes-Benz Vans, said the company expected high growth rates in the emerging markets was looking at extending its local production.

A fully assembled M-Class shipped to India costs around $200,000 to buy there because of the tariffs and fees. By comparison, Mercedes can sell the same 2013 M-Class sold in the US for between $47,270 and $96,100.

Daimler said it will also start assembly of the GL-Class from SKD kits in Indonesia in the course of 2013.

BLG Logistics is assembling the kits for shipment. The logistics provider coordinates the sequencing of vehicle parts for Mercedes' just-in-time vehicle assembly in Tuscaloosa from a separate facility and has now added an 8,400-square metre warehouse for handling kit assembly for the Asian nations.

BharatBenz production in Chennai
In other news, Daimler Trucks subsidiary Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) began production of its medium-duty BharatBenz vehicles at the Chennai production facility in southern India in October

“Along with our Indian heavy-duty vehicles, these trucks, which are based on the successful Fuso Canter and Fighter platforms, represent another step in the implementation of our multi-brand modular strategy,” said Andreas Renschler, the Daimler Board of Management member responsible for Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses.

The company said Indian brand’s heavy-duty models are based on the Mercedes-Benz Axor, but have been completely redeveloped, which also applies to the medium-duty trucks. BharatBenz products have a localization rate of 85%.

DICV aims to launch a total of 17 truck models weighing between 7 and 49 tons by 2014.